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How to reduce ‘dangerous’ errors in TV news

The reality of modern television news is that more mistakes will go to air. TV newsrooms must pump out more and more content with fewer people on staff, more pressure to be first to air, and less time for quality control.


From a recent stint as Deputy News Director in an Australian commercial TV newsroom, I know first-hand the pressure to prevent errors in a news bulletin – and the embarrassment of letting mistakes slip through and go to air. It feels like being like a soccer goalkeeper trying to stop dozens of balls coming at you at the same time. While you’re busy preventing one error – another slips through.

By ‘dangerous’ errors – I mean errors that your viewers care about and may cause them to not trust and not watch your bulletin. There is a ‘spectrum of errors’ – many errors viewers will excuse – but other errors will annoy and turn off viewers and some errors can end up costing you money – defamation and contempt of court.

word nerd CU

Before the newsroom job, I was lucky to work with Apple for ten plus years and was part of (and learned from) Apple’s commitment to reducing written errors – in important presentations, web copy, and even day-to-day business communication that reflects the Apple brand.

Apple is the most ‘correct yet conversational’ organisation I have worked with. We’d check and double-check copy, have effective style guides and regular training sessions, and make sure any discovered mistakes were corrected promptly and not repeated by others.

News is different – more rushed, more immediate with less time to catch and correct errors that will occur despite the best efforts of experienced and hard-working professionals.

Working back in news I had to learn to adjust my ‘Apple’ style and loosen up and be faster and ‘move on’ when mistakes slipped through.  Still, I firmly believe TV newsrooms can benefit from better systems and awareness of how and why errors creep into a bulletin.


That’s why I’ve  combined the recent newsroom and Apple experience to develop systems and training and consulting to reduce those credibility-eroding errors going to air that make your news brand look ‘shoddy’ and unreliable.


I’ve learned first-hand WHY and HOW embarrassing mistakes go to air – and most importantly How to reduce the chance of errors slipping through.

The content includes why you should:

  1. get things right from the start of your news day – why assignment lists and story slugs can cause problems
  2. be aware of the dangers of cut-and-paste and too much haste
  3. be more alert to mistakes at certain ‘danger’ times of day
  4. realise what mistakes matter most to your audience
  5. ‘educate’ and fast-track reporters and producers who’ve joined you from other ‘markets’
  6. make sure your prized newsreaders (the face of your news) don’t look or sound stupid (How mistakes they didn’t make can reflect badly on them in the eyes of the viewer)
  7. correct mistakes – so they are not spread beyond your bulletin

Errors WILL probably go to air – but you CAN reduce the number of errors – especially the types of errors that cause you the most damage in the eyes of your audience.


One comment on “How to reduce ‘dangerous’ errors in TV news

  1. efangelist
    February 21, 2017

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2017 by in Uncategorized.
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